Newly-crowned ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva puts his belt on the line for the first time on 12 May.
The Singapore-based Brazilian faces the man he defeated to win the belt, former champion Yoshitaka Naito, in the main event of ONE: GRIT AND GLORY in Jakarta, Indonesia.
And the Brazilian says he’s looking to upgrade his performance from their first meeting, when he claimed a decision victory over the Japanese athlete after five well-contested rounds.
This time, he says, he wants a finish.
“I always try to finish the bout. I always try to submit you, or knock you out,” said the 35-year-old.
“I believe I can beat him again. I am looking for the finish, but even if the finish does not come, I feel I can beat him over five rounds again. I do not feel I have to prove anything to anybody in this rematch. I am just looking to improve upon my performance from the first bout. That is my goal now.
“I am training hard, I am pushing hard, and I will be prepared for everything. I will be ready to go all five rounds again if I need to, but I will be looking to finish him before the fifth round this time.”
Silva was an ace on the mats earlier in his career, earning a Copa do Mundo title before deciding to swap Brazil for Singapore and a life competing in the cage for ONE Championship.
And after a string of submission wins, he faced Naito at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD last December in a battle between two elite grapplers of the sport. But the contest ended up staying mostly on the feet, as Silva showcased his rarely-seen striking skills en route to a decision victory.
But despite taking satisfaction from handing Naito his first ever loss and winning the ONE Strawweight World Title, Silva says there’s much better to come from him in the rematch.
“I am happy about getting the belt, but I always try my best to finish the bout,” he stated.
“I cannot say I am not happy about getting the world title, but I would have been happier if I could have finished the contest before the fifth round.”
Naito, for his part, will be super-motivated to put things right second time around and regain his title. But when looking at his opponent and breaking down his skills, Silva says the former champion faces an inconvenient truth.
“I think his biggest strength might be his grappling,” he explained.
“But I am a grappler, too, and I believe I am better than him in any art, especially on the ground.
“In the first bout, he tried everything. He gave all he had, and I did not really show much of my grappling. So if he looks to take the bout to the ground this time, then it is going to be bad for him.”
With the title around his waist, Silva now plans on staying at the top of the division for a long time, as he seeks to build a legacy that fans young and old can relate to and be inspired by.
“I have been working hard to become a champion, so now that I am the champion of the division, I am working even harder than before to keep a hold of my title,” he said.
“I think I have everything I need. I am determined, I am focused, I have the skills, I always work hard, and I have the best team behind me — Evolve MMA. So I think I have everything to hold this belt for a long time.”
If he can keep a determined Naito at bay for a second time, he’ll be away and clear at the top of the division.
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